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W.T. Massey - How Jerusalem Was Won. Allenby's Campaign in Palestine

the 60th Division was already at Latron attached to the XXIst Corps - might take over the line. The
Commander-in-Chief that evening ordered the attack on the enemy's positions to be discontinued until

the arrival of fresh troops. During the next day or two the enemy's artillery was as active as hitherto, but

the punishment he had received in his attacks made him pause, and there were only small half-hearted

attempts to reach our line. They were all beaten off by infantry fire, and the reliefs of the various

brigades of the XXIst Corps were complete by November 28. It had not been given to the XXIst Corps to

obtain the distinction of driving the Turks for ever from Jerusalem, but the work of the Corps in the third

and fourth weeks of November had laid the foundation on which victory finally rested. The grand efforts

of the 52nd and 75th Divisions in rushing over the foothills of the Shephelah on to the Judean heights, in

getting a footing on some of the most prominent hills within three days of leaving the plain, and in

holding on with grim tenacity to what they had gained, enabled the Commander-in-Chief to start on a

new plan by which to take the Holy City in one stride, so to speak. The 52nd and 75th Divisions and, as

will be seen, the Yeomanry Mounted Division as well, share the glory of the capture of Jerusalem with

the 53rd, 60th, and 74th Divisions who were in at the finish.

The fighting of the Yeomanry Mounted Division on the left of the 52nd was part and parcel of the XXIst
Corps' effort to get to the Nablus road. It was epic fighting, and I have not described it when narrating the

infantry's daily work because it is best told in a connected story. If the foot sloggers had a bad time, the

conditions were infinitely worse for mounted troops. The ground was as steep, but the hillsides were

rougher, the wadis narrower, the patches of open flat fewer than in the districts where infantry operated.

So bad indeed was the country that horses were an encumbrance, and most of them were returned to the

plain. After a time horse artillery could proceed no farther, and the only guns the yeomanry had with

them were those of a section of the Hong Kong and Singapore mountain battery, manned by Sikhs,

superb fellows whose service in the Egyptian deserts and in Palestine was worthy of a martial race. But

their little guns were outranged by the Turkish artillery, and though they were often right up with the

mounted men they could not get near the enemy batteries. The supply of the division in the nooks and

crannies where there was not so much as a goat-path was a desperate problem, and could not have been

solved without the aid of many hundreds of pack-donkeys which dumped their loads of supplies and

ammunition on the hillsides, leaving it to be carried forward by hand. The division were fighting almost

continually for a fortnight. They got farther forward than the infantry and met the full force of an

opposition which, if not stronger than that about Nebi Samwil, was extremely violent, and they came

back to a line which could be supplied with less difficulty when it was apparent that the Turks were not

going to accept the opportunity General Allenby gave them to withdraw their army from Jerusalem. The

Division's most bitter struggle was about the Beth-horons, on the very scene where Joshua, on a

lengthened day, threw the Canaanites off the Shephelah.

The Yeomanry Mounted Division received orders on the afternoon of November 17 to move across
Ajalon into the foothills and to press forward straight on Bireh as rapidly as possible. Their trials they

began immediately. One regiment of the 8th Brigade occupied Annabeh, and a regiment of the 22nd

Brigade got within a couple of miles of Nalin, where a well-concealed body of the enemy held it up.

Soon the report came in that the country was impassable for wheels. By the afternoon of the next day the

8th Brigade were at Beit ur el Foka - Beth-horon the Upper - a height where fig trees and pomegranates

flourish. Eastwards the country falls away and there are several ragged narrow valleys between some

tree-topped ridges till the eye meets a sheikh's tomb on the Zeitun ridge, standing midway between Foka

and Beitunia, which rears a proud and picturesque head to bar the way to Bireh. The wadis cross the

valleys wherever torrent water can tear up rock, but the yeomanry found their beds smoother going, filled

 

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